By Adisa Adeleye
Political party adherents and commentators on public affairs are always interested in the final results of elections, especially the keenly contested ones. It becomes more interesting when it is a straight political duel between the ruling party which is accustomed to a period of easy victories and a resurgent opposition which is solidly bent on changing the political scenery.
According to many analysts, there is actually no marked distinction between the leading parties on economic philosophy – their leaders are simply capitalist birds with their beaks dyed in lurid colours – the Babangida version of, a “Little to the right” and a `Little to the left`. Both PDP and APC promise massive employment programmes without a slight indication of where the desired capital investment would come from. Empirical evidence has shown absolute reliance on `oil money` which is now dwindling fast owing to the fall in prices of different grades of crude oil.
The immediate switch from costly imports to cheaper home-made goods is a false economic doctrine especially in a place where manufacturing opportunities are hampered by decaying infrastructures and frustrated by high cost of funds for expansion.
Some wise manufacturers have started to meet the challenges by not raising the prices of their products but by reducing the contents of their packages.
The concentration of the public on the economic policies (or lack) of the main political parties has prevented the notice of one of the small parties which stands for the ‘control of heights‘ of the economy of the country. This simply means the economy under State direction – practised in China and the old Soviet Union.
That was the same economic ideology pursued by the country‘s military rulers in the 1970s; 1980s and early part of 1990s without enviable and enduring success. As much as State control of the economy has its own merits, the modern economic thought or behavior favour a ‘mixed economy‘ template to strengthen democracy and encourage the private sector. The privatization of the PHCN is a case in point; though experience has pointed to a step taken in a hurry.
It is appropriate at this juncture to return to the original question of ‘Who will win and should win the Presidential election between the incumbent, President Jonathan (PDP) and his main challenger, Gen Buhari (rtd) of the APC.
The two candidates are not new to political power – Dr. Jonathan became President in 2010 after the death of President Yar‘Adua and was elected in 2011, Gen Buhari became ‘Head of State‘ in 1983 after overthrowing President Shagari in a military coup; he lost to Babangida in another military coup in 1985.
The umpire (INEC) in the contest has come up with a new gadget called the Card Reader in addition to the permanent voters card (PVC) in order, perhaps, to separate real human voters from the cattle, ghosts and fishes which appeared as voters in those dark days of rigged elections.
The innovation has thrown the ruling party into a nervous stance inspite of the advantage of incumbency and other logistical electoral advantages. It is left for the Opposition to defend and standby the referee duly appointed by the President (a candidate) and approved by the Senate dominated by the PDP.
However, in support of the stand of the PDP, INEC must ensure that its necessary innovation works – PVCs must reach all available registered eligible voters and the card reader must function faultlessly at the crucial times to ensure credible fair elections.
In a credible and fair contest, a winner should emerge, all things being equal: In the United States, (USA) sitting Presidents have been re-elected for ‘second term‘. President Obama is on his second term. Also, Clinton did two terms as a candidate of the Democrats.
However, Jimmy Carter failed in his second term bid; also, Kennedy did not complete his first term before he was assassinated, and his successor Lyden Johnson completed Kennedy‘s term and did only one term himself. In Britain, the Iron Lady Thatcher did more than two terms but her successor, John Major could manage only one term. Also Tony Blair of the Labour party in Britain did more than two terms but Gordon Brown; his successor could manage only one term. Nothing therefore, is sacrosanct about two terms. Everything depends, as politicians often say, on favourable political climate and performance of the office holder who wants re-election. Often, party would support his nomination but would accept the verdict of the electorate.
The complexity of the Presidential election on March 28, 2015 lies in the simplicity of various assumptions. The 2011 result which enthroned President Jonathan presented an interesting scenario – block votes in South-South; South-East; North-West; North-East in four of the six political zones. President Jonathan captured all the States in the south except Osun (South-west). In the North, Buhari (under CPC) could not take all the States; he was only successful in 12 States. The votes of the Yoruba state (South-west) were widely spread with Jonathan, the greatest beneficiary. The minorities of the North-Central went the Jonathan way in 2011.
Many analysts see this years‘ contest to be centered around the South-West zone because of what is regarded as sophistication of the Yoruba voters. That sophistication which had seen the emergence of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (Ibo) as member for Lagos in the Legislative Council in the 1940s and also the preference of an Ijaw (Bayelsa), Ernest Ikoli (step father of Remi-Kayode, Femi‘s father) to a Yoruba Ijebu (Akinsanya) for a Legislative Council seat in the 1940s. That sophistication‘ was still exhibited at the national level aided by Obasanjo‘s drawing of the Yoruba into the mid-stream of national politics before the adventure of Tinubu in rescuing the Yoruba from the mid-ocean of political uncertainty That sophistication has also been affected by the curious culture of infrastructure of the stomach.
There is no doubt that Jonathan‘s party PDP is still strong in the South-west (thanks to Obasanjo‘s dismantling of myth of AD in 2003) and the ageing generation of Awo followers – the Afenifere whose romantic names weigh more than their electoral assets. The sophistication of the Yoruba voters would be effectively tested in the South-west, where Tinubu, as the effective Yoruba Leader tries to sell his new found ally, Buhari. If he succeeds, a new political alliance of greater significance for political stability of the country would have appeared.
As for me, the real battle between Jonathan and Buhari lies in the pictureresque plateau and plains of the minorities – North-central State.